Continuing my exploration of samples I bought awhile ago because I´d heard/learned/read something about each, and now I have no idea what that was – I threw caution to the wind and spritzed on a heavy dose of Vivienne Westwood´s Boudoir. I have a sense of this being a fragrance people either love or hate, but other than the name suggesting something sexy (and I have a soft spot in my head for eccentric Viv), I wasn´t sure what to expect.
As I stood there, enveloped in the miasma that is Boudoir, it came to me: I must have wanted a fragrance that smelled like being in a nightclub 20+ years ago, jammed up against some tall, sweaty girl´s armpit. The club is dark; it´s hot; it´s loud; everyone´s smoking; they´re playing Madonna or Dead or Alive or Herbie Hancock or even (flashback!) One Night in Bangkok and you are singing along loudly because you have maybe had one or two controlled substances (admit it, you know all the words!). Then this tall girl is smashed up against you, possibly because you fell into her, because you … are … toasted. She´s wearing some radically in-your-face fragrance like Giorgio, and there are massive sweat stains in her underarms, one of which is inches from your nose.
I was kind of digging this, to be honest. Boudoir is not everyone´s cup of tea. This is, in fact, probably not the cup of tea for hordes (acres? furlongs? planets?) of people, among them Tania Sanchez, who in The Guide suggested it be renamed Bidet. It´s really not quite altogether pleasant. (Should I have smoked that clove cigarette? Drunk that fifth beer? Eaten that last mushroom? I feel a little queasy! Maybe I should go outside where it´s cooler, but will the bouncer let me back in?!?) There´s something mildly sick-making about Boudoir, and at the same time, it´s glorious.
Notes for Boudoir are viburnum, marigold, orange blossom, orris, rose, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, amber, vanilla, sandalwood, patchouli. I suppose you could pretend it´s all about buxom, satiny seduction, but I´d argue this is the perfect scent to wear before a night out clubbing followed by some unspecified debauchery and the obligatory walk of shame in the full, pitiless light of morning. Boudoir doesn´t want to stay home in any boring old bedroom (no offense); it deserves a night out on the town, with some champagne and some social smoking and some mojitos and whatever else you might have trouble remembering the next day when you wake up on some stranger´s couch.
Sure, it´s freshly showered for about the first 25 seconds, but then the stank blows in and it´s breathtaking. In more than one sense. I think it must be the combination of viburnum (some kinds of which to my nose can smell, like linden, a little gamey) and the coriander. Close behind the spicy floral aspect is the perfect idealized smell of sweat – young, fresh nightclub sweat, not flop-sweat, but still — the effect is as if you put on perfume to mask your own stink. The marigold and the cardamom and the patchouli have effectively strangled much of the femme out of this thing. I would love to smell it on a man.
An observation – once it settled a bit, from a distance, 11-year-old Enigma (twice) told me how much she liked the way this smells, and then when she sniffed my skin she recoiled in disgust. She seemed flummoxed by the fact that it is the same fragrance, and I have the same experience; the closer you get to your skin, the nastier it gets.
So go ahead. Wear it. Not to work, for Pete´s sake, or to church, or to visit a sick friend. And certainly not to your next job interview. But if reading this prompted any kind of nostalgia, real or imagined, for clove cigarettes, fingerless mesh gloves, gin & tonics and giant earrings from Fiorucci, maybe you need a little of this in a spray atomizer.
Siouxie and Dead or Alive albums; Vivienne Westwood rocks the horns (!) on newcultureform.org.uk. Man, I wish I still had those Fiorucci earrings….